Great Reviews of Cirsova’s Spring Issue by Jon Mollison

Jon begins with a review of the new Tarzan story, Young Tarzan and the Mysterious She, by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Michael Tierney:

But the story…is it any good?

Of course it is.  Michael Tierney did the heavy lifting here to prepare the work for publishing, and his stitch-work comes off as invisible.

He also touches upon Jeff Stoner’s story, Atop the Cliffs of Ral-Gri:

In most anthologies published today, the ending would have been telegraphed from paragraph one.  Stoner sets up some inter-party rivalries among the Germans, and never lets you forget that these are the historical bad guys, but he also dangles the results of the encounter with the godling just out of reach until the last possible minute.  He touches on and eludes to the holocaust in a way that leaves the reader in doubt as to whether this is an Indiana Jones style story where our archaeologist learns just enough to pull back at the last instant, or whether it is actually an alternate earth where the events of the story lead directly to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Well played, Mister Stoner.

The Cirsova Spring issue is available in eBook, Paperback, and Hardback now.

Also, Michael Tierney’s new Wild Stars adventure, Wild Star Rising, is available for pre-order through IndieGoGo, along with the all new 35th Anniversary Editions of previous Wild Stars adventures!

Short Reviews – Captain Midas, by Alfred Coppel, Jr.

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

Captain Midas by Alfred Coppel, Jr. appeared in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.

Captain Midas is another ‘tough’ story of the hard, grizzled men of space, but without some of the silliness of Ordeal in Space.  Let me start off by saying this would’ve made a great episode of The Outer Limits.

The story starts with the narrator doing the whole badass cynical ‘man of the sea’ bit, telling the story from old spacemen’s home.  He makes a point of noting that he’s old and dying, waiting for death to take him at last:

“My hair is gray and my face…my face is a mask.  The flesh hangs on my bones like a yellow cloth on a rickety frame.  I am old, old. And I wait for the weight of years I’ve never lived to drag me under and let me forget the awful things my eyes have seen.”

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Short Reviews – Ordeal in Space by Ralph Sloan

Ordeal in Space by Ralph Sloan appeared in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.  It is unrelated to the Robert Heinlein story by the same name.Planet Stories Logo

Ordeal in Space is a gritty story of a cop who’s walking a dangerous line between the law and his desire for revenge.  It’s a pretty ‘tough’ tale that’s only slightly marred by one of the sillier sci-fi elements, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Space Patrol Lt. Mike Logan approaches a prison cell with hate and revenge in his heart – he’s going shoot Edward Snyder, the criminal who murdered his brother.  Before he can pull the trigger, Logan is apprehended by one of the prison guards.

Logan’s punishment is to personally take Snyder back to Earth to be hung and see that he gets there alive and in one piece.

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Short Reviews – The Giants Return by Robert Abernathy

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

The Giants Return by Robert Abernathy appeared in the Fall 1949 issue of Planet Stories.Planet Stories Logo

Quest III has been on a 900 year voyage from an Earth whose burgeoning population threatens the future of Mankind.  As one of three ships sent forth to scout out likely locations to establish colonies to transplant large segments of the human race, Quest III is ultimately returning in failure.  While it has been ten long years for the crew—many of whom have children who have yet to see the earth—due to time dilation from near-light speed travel, an epoch has passed on Earth.

The crew and captain wonder if their mission was even remembered and how what government now in charge—if there even is a government—will receive them and do with the information they return with.

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Short Reviews – Coming of the Gods by Chester Whitehorn

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

Coming of the Gods by Chester Whitehorn was featured in the Summer 1945 issue of Planet Stories.Planet Stories Logo

One of the many reasons why I’m doing Short Reviews is to share what stories from the pulps were like and what they were about, as many of these have never been collected or reprinted; I feel that it’s important because the on-going meme you hear about the pulps is how sexist, regressive, racist, anti-diversity and pro-colonialist they were and that could not be further from the truth! Coming of the Gods is another piece that shows how people who claim the pulps were just dumb action tripe and should be buried in favor of more ‘serious’ science fiction could not be more wrong.

Coming of the Gods is an interesting twist on the Planetary Romance in which the story is told not from the point of view of some heroic Earth-man arriving on a strange world to save the day but an alien primitive saving the hapless space pioneers from the mess that they inadvertently brought to his world.  Kinda like Tarzan, but it should be noted that the hero here is an indigenous African Martian.  Again, we have a classic pulp sci-fi story featuring an explicitly non-white protagonist exploring some interesting themes including human commonality and the institution of marriage.

On the jungle planet of Mars (yeah, that Mars), Ro has just returned from a long and dangerous journey to the far north.  He looks forward to rejoining his tribe and marrying his love, but he arrives to find that disaster has struck.  After rescuing his beloved Na from an Oan, one of the Martian Rat-men, Ro learns what befell his people.  In Ro’s absence, a magic flying sphere landed carrying four white-skinned beings; these visitors were able to communicate telepathically and befriended the Martians, but apparently were not too cautious about keeping their ray guns secure, because the Oan managed to get ahold of them, and the result was a massacre.

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Short Reviews – Cosmic Yo-Yo by Ross Rocklynne

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

Cosmic Yo-Yo by Ross Rocklynne appeared in the Summer 1945 issue of Planet Stories.Planet Stories Logo

The Cosmic Yo-yo is a fairly short Blue-collar space romance by Ross Rocklynne.  This one was panned a bit in the letters to the editor in the following issue, partly because of its rather silly premise, but I actually really liked this one.

A couple of asteroid haulers have created a business out of convincing rich folks on Earth that it would be great to have asteroids in their back yard.  Truly the gift for someone who has everything!  Of course, they’ve also got rivals who’ve taken their idea and are in heated competition.

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Short Reviews – Assault on a City by Jack Vance

[originally posted here at Castalia House]

Assault on a City by Jack Vance appeared in the 1974 collection Universe: 4.519QW9-HHhL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_

I’m doing something a bit different this week; circumstances have kept me from having time to hit the pulp stack but having seen a few articles on the Sensor Sweep mentioning the rapey nature of some of Vance’s characters and the questioning of rape as a narrative device, it seemed strangely prescient that I just happened to find a collection over the weekend with this particular story in it. Assault on a City looks at what would happen when one of those dirty rotten no-good rapey protagonists tries his shtick on one of those smart, collected and brave pulp sci-fi girls.

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